Archive Page 2

10
Oct
15

The Beast Within (1982)

beastwithinposterI’m not quite sure where to begin with The Beast Within. I sort of assumed, just by its name, that it was a werewolf movie, but it’s not that at all. After having watched it, I’m still not exactly sure what it’s all about. I also assumed that Ronny Cox would play a huge dick in it, because that’s what Ronny Cox does. But he doesn’t! He plays a normal dude! In fact, he plays a dad very concerned about his son. See what happens when you assume? Anyway, I’m not sure The Beast Within will overturn all your expectations, but it certainly is different than your typical horror flick.

The plot is super convoluted, which is one of the film’s shortcomings. If I were to go in-depth not only would this be a 2,000-word blog post, it would also be rife with spoilers. So I’ll do my best to keep it short and sweet. During their honeymoon, Caroline and Eli (Cox) MacLeary run into some car trouble. Eli runs to get help, leaving Caroline and their dog with the car. The dog sees something in the woods (because everyone has car trouble while they’re near the spooky woods) and bolts. Caroline of course goes after the dog, and is mauled and raped by someone… or something.

Caroline and Eli do some digging.

Caroline and Eli do some digging.

Seventeen years later, their son Michael is having some serious medical issues. Fearing they might be genetic, the couple must come to terms with the fact that Michael is the result of Caroline’s rape. So like any loving pair of parents they head to the town where it all went down to look for any information on Michael’s biological father. When they get there, they are confronted with nothing but spooky folks who refuse to cooperate, or even acknowledge that anything bad ever happened in their town. Luckily, Caroline finds a lead while fishing through the library’s old newspapers. Strangely enough, the folks tied to Caroline’s mysterious lead start dying horfiffic deaths, and Michael is becoming less and less like himself…

Yowza, this movie is so all over the place, and so strange! As I said before, the plot is circuitous and confusing and just generally batshitty, and it’s more than a little distracting. I think if it had been simplified even just a little bit, it

The beast within finally comes out...

The beast within finally comes out…

would have made a world of difference. That being said, I still admire how much this movie tries to cram into its 98 minutes, and I certainly didn’t find myself bored or exasperated by it, and for me that’s always a bonus. It even has stuff it wants to say about small-town nepotism and the beasts we all become once we grow into adults, even if it’s done a little clumsily. The performances are all pretty good too; even old Ronny Cox is convincing as a normal dude, which I never thought I’d say. But probably the best thing The Beast Within has got going for it is the practical special effects; damn, that shit looks good.

Apologies for this rather ambiguous post, but I don’t want to give too much away. This movie was fun in large part because I didn’t know what to expect, and I hate it when I accidentally fall down the trap of wasting paragraph upon paragraph detailing the plot. I think this movie is definitely worth your time, so long as you have patience enough to deal with a rather mystifying plot and a weird obsession with locusts.

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09
Oct
15

Leeches! (2003)

Very recently I decided it was make or break with my disc rental service from Netflix. All too often the movies sit there and don’t get watched for months, and with their selection of available discs diminishing every day, I sometimes have trouble convincing myself it’s worth it. The trouble is, I’ve been a customer for so long it’s just so hard to let go! I’m not the type of person that’s just going to watch whatever’s available; I refuse to be a slave to the availability of films on any streaming service. Netflix disc rental is my safety net. So since we are keeping it, we decided it was high time to push on through the queue.

My gift from Netflix: Hot Boyz with no Shirtz

My gift from Netflix: Hot Boyz with no Shirtz

Unfortunately, the disc we set down to watch that evening was broken. No big deal, we reported it and waited for the replacement. Which was also broken. Okay, that’s weird, there’s no way the third disc will be broken, right? Wrong! So the ever-wonderful Q called customer service, where they had trouble believing us, and handed us an extra disc from our queue while also sending another replacement for the same movie. Wouldn’t you know it, that fourth disc was broken, too. Q called customer service again and was so darn nice to the dude on the phone that he offered us two extra discs from our queue. And that long introduction, my friends, is what got me into the mess of a film called Leeches! Since I usually have time between shipping off one disc and Netflix receiving it, I have time to groom my queue and decide what movie I want next. Unfortunately, the kind generosity of Netflix Customer Service Representative X forced me to end up with a movie I honestly can’t even fathom having put in my queue. My guess is I put it in there somewhere around seven years ago where it languished until it said “Long Wait” next to it, at which point I moved it up top because, well, that’s where all the long waits live.

In the end, though, it is clear that I owe a giant thank you to Netflix Customer Service Representative X, because Leeches! probably never would have made it into the mail if not by accident, and although it is awful, it is awful in new and exciting ways! It’s not that I’m not used to awful horror movies, it’s just that I prefer those awful horror movies to come from a specific window of time (preferably the 60’s – 80’s). So when I saw this flick was from 2003 my first thought was Oh, dear lord, why?

“Dude, leeches! Gross!”

Thankfully, my worst fears were allayed at the very first scene. A young college boy in speedos practicing for a swim meet! In slow motion! He touches his hair as the camera softly graces his young, ideal form… holy crap! This is homoerotic smut! What an exciting, unexpected treat! I have to admit, I had no idea this sub-genre of horror even existed! Thank you Netflix Customer Service Representative X for opening my eyes!

I guess I should go through the plot. Ok, so there’s this college where none of the boys wear clothes. I mean, they wear speedos, and sometimes they wear swim trunks over those speedos, and surely sometimes they wear an earring (sometimes two!) or a necklace. They are really super pumped about being a great swim team, so they’re all on steroids! For some reason, they’re always swimming in this lake that’s right on campus, next to the swimming pool, where you’d think they’d get the best practice, but whatever. As you might have guessed, this idyllic lake is populated with more than just an Adonis or two; it’s also rife with LEECHES!

Still no shirts.

Still no shirts.

Well, that’s not really a big deal, just pick them off and throw them on the floor of the showers in the locker room, right? There’s just one minor problem: the leeches aren’t just feasting on hot-boy blood, but also on the hot-boy steroids! As you can imagine, the leeches grow to a ridiculous size and start wreaking havoc all over this extremely small and mostly-naked campus.

There is other stuff that happens, but obviously nobody watching this movie gives a crap what that is. I’d seen the director’s name, David DeCoteau, on countless used DVDs, some of which we’ve purchased. I had no idea a large part of his career was directing extremely cheap smut! That being said, at least here in Leeches! the smut is quite tame; I don’t think there’s any nudity at all. Just a lot of close-ups of cut abs and whatnot. It’s just so hilariously horny, it’s hard not to enjoy watching it.

Well, there they are ladies and gents, the titular leeches! And still no shirt.

Well, there they are ladies and gents, the titular leeches! And still no shirt.

I’m frankly not sure how many different movies of this ilk I could sit through, but the chances are I’m going to test my limits. At any rate, it’s really good to know this sub-genre is out there; what a gloriously idiotic and empty way to spend 85 minutes.

08
Oct
15

Village of the Damned (1960)

When 2015 started I promised myself I’d read a lot of books this year. Now, here we are in October and I can say with certainty that however many books I’ve read so far doesn’t come anywhere close to anyone’s definition of “a lot.” Realizing this of course didn’t make me run to my reading nook, but instead prompted me to watch a film adaptation of one of the books I did read this year, John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos. After all, it is October, and what says Halloween more than a dozen creepy kids with glowing eyes?

Just a mysteriously-induced nap in the middle of the day for the whole town of Midwich

Just a mysteriously-induced nap in the middle of the day for the whole town of Midwich

Midwich is a small, forgettable village outside of London. New folks rarely show up, and when they do they’re often met with suspicion. Everyone that lives there has known everyone else for essentially their whole lives. There’s absolutely nothing remarkable about the place. That is, until all the residents of the town experience a strange, unexplained simultaneous black-out. Literally every living thing in the confines of the village falls asleep, right in the middle of what they’re doing, at exactly the same time. Scientists from neighboring villages are unable to pinpoint the cause, and when everyone wakes up seemingly normal, it is chalked up to a harmless oddity.

Unfortunately, it turns out not to be so harmless after all. It isn’t long until the local doctor starts to notice a disturbing trend: every single woman of child-bearing age is found to be pregnant. Some even claim to still be virgins. Not only that, the babies are growing at an alarming rate, causing the doctor and the town’s one intellectual, a writer named Zellaby, to question the origin of these babies…

Beware the children with the golden eyes!

Beware the children with the golden eyes!

A few months pass, and the women uneventfully give birth to the babies. Most are strong, and they seem normal, except for their weird golden eyes. It’s when they get older that the problems start to show themselves. They seem to exert a strange control over people to get what they want. Zellaby also discovers that what one toddler learns, the rest of the group learns without being present. They’re like a unit. A big, scary, evil, golden-eyed unit. What plans do they have in store for little old Midwich?

For a flick from 1960, Village of the Damned is pretty effectively freaky. Those shining golden eyes actually look pretty good, but the actors they cast (and those awful haircuts!) do a lot of the heavy-lifting when it comes to making the kids look super creepy. Unsurprisingly though, the film doesn’t have half the bite the book does.

Cross these kids and they'll make you blow your own brains out.

Cross these kids and they’ll make you blow your own brains out.

Clocking in at under 80 minutes, it doesn’t even really give itself the chance to tackle some of the subtleties that make the book so great. Not only that, the characters are kind of just there; there is no time for any of them to develop personalities. You still get a good dose of Cold-War era paranoia, especially with those kids acting all robotic and pretty much sharing a brain, but the book offers so much more than this skimpy film does.

So, is that what I get for reading the book first? It’s always so hard to put my expectations on the back burner and enjoy a film isolated from its source material. The bottom line is, the story this film tells is legitimately spooky, and done well enough. I have to admit I’m curious about John Carpenter’s 1995 version; I wonder if a more modern adaptation would be willing to take more risks than obviously the 1960 version could, or would, have wanted to. But I digress. In the end Village of the Damned is just allright; it’s the “light” version of a seriously creepy story. Cliche as it is, I have to say: the book was better.

06
Oct
15

Office Killer (1997)

What is that Dorine up to?

What is that Dorine up to?

I can’t count how many times writing this blog has made me miss the days where I had full access to my parent’s cable box. There is, after all, some pleasure in clicking through countless channels and coming across a horror gem that you otherwise would never have heard of. I watched so many movies when I lived at home with them, I’ve straight up forgotten most. Until recently, Office Killer was one of those, but when Q mentioned a campy horror flick starring Carol Kane as a serial killer, a lightbulb went off. Oh yes, I remember that…

Directed by photographer Cindy Sherman (which is why Q was interested in the first place), Office Killer tells the tale of a meek copy-editor whose job, after nearly two decades, is suddenly at risk. Dorine Douglas (Kane) has been at Constant Consumer almost since its inception, but that hasn’t earned her much respect. In fact, some people think her quiet nature hides something sinister and creepy. Kim Poole (Molly Ringwald) feels strongly about this. Perhaps she’s right.

Michael Imperioli is practically a baby here.

Michael Imperioli is practically a baby here.

Constant Consumer hasn’t had a good quarter, or year, in a long time. To make up for lost cash, Virginia Wingate, the head honcho at the magazine (who also happens to be a chain-smoking asthmatic – this will be important) hires Norah Reed (Jeanne Tripplehorn) to help the company downsize. Of course, Dorine is one of many to receive a nice little pink slip that kindly informs her that not only have her hours been cut down to part time, she’ll also be expected to work from home for most of it. To a lot of us today, a prescription for working from home doesn’t sound so bad. But Dorine’s home life is not exactly ideal. Every moment spent at home is spent looking after her needy, handicapped mother. Without even the minimal contact of her coworkers, Dorine’s going to have to make new friends. If she doesn’t, she just might go insane.

Have you read the latest issue of Constant Consumer?

Have you read the latest issue of Constant Consumer?

I’ve always liked Carol Kane as an actress, but I’m certainly more used to seeing her play a loud, obnoxious character (Scrooged, Princess Bride) than the quiet mouse she plays here. I’m happy to report she handles this role just as well as anything else I’ve ever seen her in, and she does so with just enough humor to fit the film perfectly. I’ve heard the film referred to as campy, and while that’s true in some places, it certainly isn’t an all-out romp. In fact, I think you could even say it’s a little sedate in places where it most definitely could have been taken over the top. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re walking into this one expecting a laugh riot, you’re not going to be pleased. There are some chuckles all right, but just chuckles. I’m hesitant to even add comedy as an appropriate category for this movie.

Office Killer is about as good as I remember it being when I first saw it ages ago. And that, according to my Netflix star-ratings, is about three stars. It’s not a movie I’d go up and down the street shouting about, but it is a pretty solid outing. It’s certainly not a bad way to spend a night in October. And hey, you get to see a pre-Sopranos Michael Imperioli playing an awkward character. That might be worth it in and of itself!

05
Oct
15

Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971)

Does anyone out there still rent Netflix discs? Is it just the old people? Do I count as an old person because 1) I’m 35 and 2) I rent discs from Netflix? Should I stop asking rhetorical questions? Sometimes I wonder why I continue to rent the discs, since I go through cycles of watching them and then not watching them for months on end, letting them sit there on the table by the front door. But it’s just so hard to let go! I’ve been a disc customer for so long, bloodfromthemummystomb_2and I feel a real emotional attachment to my disc queue, which is why it pains me so damn hard to watch the discs drop from the queue to the ‘saved’ section like flies. But even still, it’s my security blanket: if I’m not sure I want to buy a movie I’ve never seen and it’s not streaming, it’s the best and cheapest way to rent a flick, since Netflix pretty much destroyed any chance of walking out the door and finding a decent place to rent movies. Sorry, but Redbox does not fucking cut it. And I am not one of those people who will just watch whatever is available. In fact, I think that’s the worst thing about Netflix streaming – I tell someone to watch a movie and the first question I get is: “is it on Netflix?” What the fuck! A movie’s only worth seeking out if you can sit on your ass and click a few buttons to get there? Pshaw!

Well anyway, that’s a long way ’round to introducing Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, a disc I’d had sitting around for nearly half a year. It was kind of one of those unintentional rentals; I’d added it to my queue so long ago and didn’t do proper maintenance after returning the disc beforehand and it just came in the mail. And sat. And sat. And sat. I guess I was under the impression it would be some old, muddy print of a boring movie I never meant to watch and only threw on the queue because it had the word “mummy” in it. Luckily it was much better than I expected.

As with most Hammer horror, and most mummy movies for that matter, the plot is pretty simple. An archaeologist named Fuchs brings back the severed hand of a pristinely-preserved Egyptian priestess. Frankly I’m not sure why she’s referred to as a mummy, because she is not mummified! She’s just a regular woman in a sarcophagus who happened to avoid decomposing for thousands of years. She even manages to maintain perky, tasteful underboob.

A disembodied hand is rarely a good thing.

A disembodied hand is rarely a good thing.

NBD. Fuchs suspects the mummy, otherwise known as Queen Tera, has some weird, deep connection with his daughter Margaret. Which kinda makes sense when you notice they’re played by the same actress (Valerie Leon).

So, the night before Margaret’s birthday, she is waiting patiently for her boyfriend Tod Browning (yeah, that’s his name folks) to come pick her up. Before Tod shows up, Fuchs gives her this gaudy old ring for ‘protection.’ From what? Or whom? And why is Tod’s mentor so afraid of it? And why is everyone in London suddenly an archaeologist? I guess these old fogies know some shit’s about to go down on Margaret’s birthday, and everyone involved in the original Queen Tera expedition is greedily guarding the relics they kept for themselves, hoping it will protect them from whatever evil the Queen has in mind for the world at large. But with Margaret suddenly (psychically?) connected to Tera, can they stop the worst from happening?

Not bad for a thousands-year-old broad.

Not bad for a thousands-year-old broad.

Okay, a lot of the movie doesn’t make much sense. But, it’s rare that I watch a Hammer film expecting a riveting, thoughtful plot, so I don’t care. This movie still has a lot going for it. First of all, everyone is so god damn fashionable, especially Margaret and Tod, who must have a different jacket for every day of the week. I guess Tod comes from money, because he drives some hot-ass cars that would be just impossible to afford on an archaeological apprentice’s wages! While it’s all pretty cheap and unimaginative, the Egyptian tchotchkes and costumes are vibrant and fun. But, perhaps, not as vibrant or fun as the electric-red blood spattered on everyone’s throats once Queen Tera is done with them!

I’m not saying you should rush out and get a copy of Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb. But if you happen to find yourself in the vicinity of one, or find a copy for a relatively affordable price, pick it up. It’s good, harmless fun. If you’re already bought in to Hammer horror, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy this one, too.

04
Oct
15

National Lampoon’s Class Reunion (1982)

Did Walter keep the same paper bag, or do you think maybe he makes a new one every couple years or so?

Did Walter keep the same paper bag, or do you think maybe he makes a new one every couple years or so?

Everyone loves John Hughes, right? The lovable writer of such 80’s teen classics as The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Sixteen Candles can do no wrong, right? Well, not exactly. If you’ve seen National Lampoon’s Class Reunion, you know just how much wrong John Hughes can do.

Back in the good old days (that’s 1972), a bunch of assholes at Lizzie Borden High (yeah, the jokes are that bad and that obvious throughout the whole movie, so settle on in) set up the school loser to hook up with his twin sister. Chief Asshole Bob Spinnaker (Gerrit Graham) convinces Walter Baylor that popular girl x, y or z really has the hots for him and wants to do it with him, so long as he wears this paper bag over his head. What a gag! After they hook up for a bit Spinnaker unveils the embarrassment of incest to the entire class of 1972, who all are apparently in on the joke, waiting at lookout point or whatever cliched hookup spot these stupid kids are at, with the high beams of their cars shining in Walter’s shamed face.

The one true highlight of this film is Anne Ramsey as the lunch lady. Unfortunately the jokes are old and tired.

The one true highlight of this film is Anne Ramsey as the lunch lady. Unfortunately the jokes are old and tired.

Fast forward 10 years to the class reunion, where everyone is still a huge asshole and Walter Baylor has returned from the insane asylum to pick off the people who humiliated him one by one. The film, for what reason I haven’t actually figured out, centers around Lizzie Borden’s “nobody” guy, Gary Nash. No one remembers him, not even his best friend – isn’t that hilarious? Anyway, after five minutes that joke gets old – but don’t worry, they’re still making it at the end of the movie, along with some other really stale jokes, like the ones about blind people, feminists, transsexuals, and stoners. Oh and isn’t that chick that’s possessed by the devil à la The Exorcist just a hoot?!

Yes, this movie is an equal opportunity offender, but maybe the most offensive thing about it is its absolute lack of laughs. I don’t think I even cracked a smile once. I suppose it is possible that if the movie hadn’t been so awfully offensive straight off the bat, I would have been more prone to giggling. But this movie pretty much shits on everyone from the get-go and never stops. Look, I know what you’re thinking, a lot of comedy is made at the expense of someone, why am I being so sensitive? It’s true, comedy doesn’t have to be, and maybe even shouldn’t be, inoffensive. But it

AREN'T JOKES ABOUT BLIND PEOPLE HILARIOUS?!

AREN’T JOKES ABOUT BLIND PEOPLE HILARIOUS?!

should be funny. And this movie isn’t funny. Not even in the remotest sense. Does anyone actually like this movie? Also, for the record, I am not easily offended! Believe me! This just hits all the wrong buttons.

It is perhaps worth noting that this is exactly the reaction Q was hoping for when he forced this film upon me. I should have known when he said things like “No, I don’t like this movie” but still wanted to watch it that his motives were less about entertainment, and more about his I-told-you-John-Hughes-is-a-huge-dick-and-maybe-you-should-reconsider-liking-his-shitty-movies-that-always-champion-the-assholes agenda. While I’m not going to say my love for the aforementioned Hughes films has diminished (nostalgia is, after all, a hell of a drug), Class Reunion has certainly cast a nasty pall on Hughes’ name.

03
Oct
15

The Tripper (2006)

Ugh, I’m just not sure where to start with David Arquette’s The Tripper except to say, well, yeah, it’s a David Arquette film. Somehow under some distant sun I felt that was not a deal breaker. Maybe I was swayed by the cast list: Balthazar Getty has that David Lynch connection, so that’s cool right? Lukas Haas has a weird face and was in Lady in White so like, those are promising things, yeah? My nose crinkled a bit at Jason Mewes, but having just watched the entirety of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil and loving everything about it, including Mewes, I thought maybe he offered potential. The deal was sealed probably though with the inclusion of Paul Reubens. I mean, it’s Paul Reubens, I feel like I should watch it on principle just because he’s in it.

Kids do the darndest things.

Kids do the darndest things.

Anyway, for some reason writers Arquette and Joe Harris thought it would be a great idea to make a film about a serial killer obsessed with… Ronald Reagan. Maybe because in 2006 we were in the thick of the Dubya presidency, they thought it would be like, smart or meaningful to remind us all that Ronnie happened or something? Huh.

Paul Reubens plays the patriotic capitalist greedy music guy!

Paul Reubens plays the patriotic capitalist greedy music guy!

So the movie starts off, oh, I don’t know, sometime in the 1970’s in rural Northern California. There’s an honest Scotsman who just wants to chop down enough redwoods to buy medicine for his dying wife, but those god damned tree-hugging hippies have a different plan! They’ll stop at nothing to save the trees, even if it means this guy’s wife dying, or maybe even sacrificing their own lives? Well, maybe they didn’t actually want to die for the trees, but one of them did anyway – at the hands of the Honest Scotsman’s son who gets his hand on a chainsaw and kills the shit out of that loudmouth hippie.

Jason Mewes finds his muse among the marijuana plants.

Jason Mewes finds his muse among the marijuana plants.

Fast forward to 2006, where money-grabbing concert promoter Frank Baker (Reubens) is throwing a music festival among the very same redwoods. Real, live, modern-day hippies show up to be naked and do drugs and shit like that. Ok, ok wait, real, live, modern-day hippies don’t really exist anymore. No, the folks at this gathering are just a bunch of kids interested in getting high, and the local law enforcement is none-too pleased to have to deal with this sort of riff-raff. Despite this, the mayor insists Officer Buzz and company play nice with Baker and the kids. After all, buttloads of money could be made if everything is handled right. The only problem is there seems to be someone out to get all the hippies! Efforts to turn the stinking hordes away from the site of several gruesome murders is futile, and the hippie blood flows.

Killer Ronnie

Killer Ronnie

The Tripper is little more than standard slasher fare, except perhaps slightly more confusing than most. Not that the plot is confusing, because it’s not; it’s pretty predictable in fact. I just can’t figure out its targets. Like, why hippies and Ronald Reagan? It’s like they decided to make a movie about irrelevant shit, while sort of trying to tie it to present-day woes, I guess? Maybe they just thought the idea of a conservative maniac wreaking havoc at a music festival was funny fodder for a horror movie?  Spoiler alert: it’s not. Or rather, perhaps it could be, but it isn’t here. The bottom line is, don’t let the cast list fool you. You can skip this movie and I promise you, you won’t be missing anything at all.




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